Berkeley's Department of Earth and Planetary Science was the first major center of academic geology in the western United States. Berkeley geologists made the first detailed study of a major earthquake, developed potassium-argon dating, brought the rigor of thermodynamics into geology, and discovered the evidence that a comet impact killed the dinosaurs.
The field of Earth and Planetary Science offers a rich variety of research targets and educational opportunities for students. The research carried out in the department, and the courses offered, treat topics encompassing the structure and composition of the earth's solid and fluid cores, the constitution of the earth's crust, the mechanisms of the earth's oceans and atmosphere, as well as the evolution of the earth and other planets over billions of years. Researchers and students in this field are driven by fundamental curiosity about the past and present states of the earth and planets, including the origin of earthquakes and mineral resources, volcanic activity, changes in the earth's climate and environment, and the impacts of global changes on society. The tools of Earth and Planetary Science are basic concepts of physics, chemistry, biology, applied mathematics and statistics, and advanced instruments that can be used to characterize geologic processes and materials.
The Department of Earth and Planetary Science offers an undergraduate major leading to a BA degree in Earth and Planetary Science with six tracks: geology, geophysics, environmental earth science, atmospheric science, marine science and planetary science. Undergraduates have the option of pursuing a minor in any of these categories. The BA degree provides coherent programs for quantitative studies of the Earth and preparation for Graduate School as well as for employment in disciplines that require an understanding of natural sciences. The Geology track satisfies the minimum requirements for registration as a geologist in the State of California. The curriculum has a rigorous core of quantitative sciences with mathematics, physics and chemistry, followed by an upper division sequence of courses specific to each track.
The Department offers a Ph.D. program, as well as a Master of Arts and a Master of Science option, with the possibility of specializing in any of the areas of expertise of our faculty. The central objective of the graduate program is to encourage creative thinking and to develop the capacity for independent and original research.
Source: Department Website June 2010